Friday, August 16, 2019

a fluff piece

Captain Hastings lost his only companion a few weeks ago. For a couple of years there were two elderly, retired hens for him to look after: The Dark Golden Hen and The Little Brown Hen. But early last Winter, The Little Brown Hen, who had never been "right" from Day One but always seemed happy enough, began to go downhill quickly and I had to put her down. I am a big "quality of life" person. I'll go a long way to try to keep everyone happy and comfortable, but I also think there are worse things than dying and sometimes the unpleasant decision is the right decision. The error that I have sometimes made has been waiting longer than I should have, and I'll try not to make that mistake again.

The Dark Golden Hen was on an Assisted Living program all through the Winter, which involved a cooked breakfast served each morning, and a Staffperson (that would be me) going out to the paddocks at dusk every evening to call her - she would answer - so I could pick her up and carry her up the stairs into the stilt barn, where she had a cozy box of hay and a heat lamp on every night. (That's right. I kept a heat lamp on every night all Winter for the comfort of one hen. Is this a good time to point out that I never refer to myself as "a farmer"?)

Spring rolled around at last, and The Dark Golden Hen was active and happy and tottering around followed everywhere by Captain Hastings...until she wasn't. She gradually became so incapacitated that her quality of life was seriously affected.

Suddenly, Captain Hastings was the sole chicken on the place.

I kept a close eye on him, worried that he would become lethargic. And I took steps. I did two things: I asked people if they needed a rooster to take over a flock, and I asked people if they knew where I might find a couple of healthy young hens. It was a question of which would happen first.

Captain Hastings has been toughing it out the past several weeks: still crowing at 4:20 every morning, still making routine visits to barns and paddocks, still coming to the porch door in late afternoon to ask for sunflower seeds. But he also began to get within ten feet of me when I went out to do chores - something he has never, ever been willing to do. I took this as a sign of desperation for companionship, not a sudden appreciation of my finer qualities.

Well, good news!

Yesterday, these two 4-month-old Lavender Orpingtons
joined our merry barnyard band.

Aren't they pretty?!

I didn't have to drive far to get them, and the woman who raised them was very nice and even insisted that I choose the two I wanted from her flock instead of just "the first two you can catch," which was my suggestion.

I chose two that have noticeably different shading right now, so I will be able to tell them apart by appearance until I get to know them. At the moment, they are living in a huge dog crate (it was my Irish Wolfhound puppy crate of years gone by) in the big barn, where Captain Hastings can visit them and the goats can look over the stall door at them but NOT visit unless I am there. Not that the goats would hurt the hens - they are a bit fascinated by them, really. But they might jump on the crate to try to get to the little dish of chicken feed, and that could be catastrophic for all concerned.

Mallow says, "I'm just LOOKING!"

And how is Captain Hastings reacting to all this?
Well, yesterday he spent most of the afternoon visiting the girls - walking back and forth outside the crate, settling down to chat, snacking, being quietly sociable - before heading off to his bedtime perch in the stilt barn.

This morning, he waited outside the big barn - at a safe distance, of course - for me to open the stall door so he could go in and visit again. The girls are staying in the crate, but there is plenty of room in the stall for visitors, and Captain Hastings can fly over the half-door if he wants to get in or out.

Unlike Bud. 

Bud knows this door is the only thing standing between him
and a bowl of chicken feed.
Which could make him very sick indeed.
Give it up, Bud.

 And here is the first portrait of one of the new girls:

So...what's new in your barnyard?



  1. Oh how wonderful for Captain Hastings to finally have some lady friends to care for--
    and I love how you told the story- made my day--
    luv, di

  2. I wrote a long and appreciative comment, complete with admiration of the story and the artwork. Then I hit the wrong button. So please take it as said! Oh, and more family narratives, please.

    1. Thank you for your long and complimentary comment, which I shall treasure always! Really, this made me laugh - there is one blog on which I have *several times* written a long comment, then signed out instead of hitting publish.

  3. Hi Quinn, I have enjoyed catching up with you tonight. Your animals makes me think about growing up on the farm. We weren't to make pets out of the animals, but we did. I am glad you have a couple of new ladies for Captain Hasting. Have a great day. Hugs and prayers from your Missouri Friend Shirley

    1. Nice to hear from you, Shirley - I hope all is well with you and yours.
      A friend referred to my goats as "pets" and I said, no, definitely not pets, but livestock treated very, very well, with care and respect. I'm sure many other people raise their livestock the same way, but I'm sure some DO consider them pets as well :)

  4. Thank you for the lovely report on Mr Hastings!
    A male cardinal flew into the shrubs near me today. I watch the tugging at branches get closer and closer. Then there he is, vibrant red and larger up close than I soon as he saw me...gone.

    1. The cardinals are quite shy here, too - I thought once they got used to coming to the feeders they'd be more at ease, but not yet!

  5. Love your portrait of one of your new Lavender Orpingtons (I love writing that as if I write about Lavender Orpintons all the time). Did you see the little portrait at the very end of my Macaroni Salad post (had nothing to do with macaroni salad!)? You make me want to go into assisted living at YOUR place!

    1. Was it Peter Rabbit in his later years? I did see it! You are really having fun with the watercolors :)

  6. They're beautiful indeed - Captain Hastings is a lucky man(rooster). His harem doesn't realize it yet, but they've landed in the best chicken spa going.

    1. As long as I can keep them safe from predators! Captain Hastings' brother, Monsieur Poirot, was taken by a hawk a couple of years ago :(

  7. Yay for Captain Hastings! What a fun story. I love the newbies' color. Very pretty.

    1. They are SO pretty! Soft, soft bluey-grey :)


Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.